The New Number Two

Ah, the number two.  Not quite good enough to be number one, but better than all the rest of the numbers.  Why then, does it seem to get so little respect? 

Take baseball, for instance.    It’s a given that you need a good leadoff man, and the number three hitter is supposed to be your best player.  But what about the number two hitter? 

Some managers like to have an on-base percentage guy there, kind of a second leadoff man.  Others like someone with great bat control, who can hit behind the runner on base, or bunt him over.  Sometimes, you’ll see a power guy in the number two spot.  Hey, why wait for the three or four hitter to see some fireworks?

Today, Mets manager Jerry Manuel slotted his starting pitcher, Oliver Perez, in

Oliver Perez - Number Two?

Oliver Perez - Number Two?

the number two spot.    Obviously, this is just to give him an at-bat before he is taken out of the game – this early in spring training, the starting pitcher only gets a couple of innings of work at the most.  But that raises an interesting question acheter du viagra sans ordonnance.  Why not bat your worst hitter second?

Manuel has been toying with leading off Luis Castillo and batting Jose Reyes second.  But why not put your pitcher there every time?  If you’re looking for a number-two guy to advance the runners, pitchers practice sacrifice bunting more than any other player.  Remember how effective Paul Lo Duca was in 2006 advancing Reyes with sacrifice bunts, and opposite-field grounders?  Pitchers have trouble catching up to fastballs, so a right-handed hitting pitcher would be perfect.  He couldn’t do anything else but hit it to the right side.

Of course, if your eight and nine hitters get on, and somehow get into scoring position with two outs and your worst hitter is at the plate, then it doesn’t sound like such a great idea.  But of course, if your seven and eight hitters get on, and your pitcher is batting ninth, then you have the same problem.  But do you really want your worst hitter to potentially get more at-bats than your cleanup hitter? 

So what to do about number two?  Maybe it only matters in the first inning, because from then on, anyone can be the number two hitter.  What a perplexing number, the number two.  No wonder you little respect.

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